You guys are fabulous! Thanks for the reviews they really made my day :) One thing though, I have no clue where my lines went, the ones that show a shift in the discussion and setting... so just adding them now.


Layla Thompson, in short, was beautiful. She had long, straight, blonde hair that reached her back. It was soft to the touch and naturally flowed with a bounce at the end. Her eyes were a dark shade of green; almost grey. Layla had a small cute nose; or so she was frequently told. Her lips were full and pouty, matched with high cheek bones and pale skin that was free of blemishes. She easily reached 5'7, with long, slender, athletic legs. Her chest may have been a bit larger than what it should have been, but apparently that was a good thing.

Michelle Williams, Layla's best friend, was not her total opposite. Michelle was 5'6, with a leaner build. She had short hair that framed her heart shaped face. Her dirty blonde hair was matched with hazel eyes, and a bright smile. Together, Michelle and Layla were best friends. They were inseparable. Michelle was a little quieter than Layla, and she had more common sense to keep her mouth shut when the situation called for it.

Boys had never, and would never come between the two. It was just so silly, they both had agreed a long time ago. Contrary to popular clichéd belief, Layla had not dated all the hot guys in the school, leaving Michelle behind in the dust. The two had just about the same amount of boyfriends and shared many double dates.

Michelle was not jealous of Layla's outward beauty, and Layla was not jealous of Michelle's logical and serene behaviour. The two girls were now in their senior year and they were growing a little bored. Layla and Michelle decided to play a little game; an experiment of sorts, because if not now, then when? The catch? They were each playing for the other; Layla on behalf of Michelle, and Michelle on behalf of Layla. Catch number two? Neither of the two knew.

Layla Thompson walked through the halls of Skyridge high, with her black heels clicking and her confidence blinding. At her side Michelle wore a smirk and the same confidence. The two walked down the hall discussing their plan.

"Layla, I don't get it. I thought you liked Mike." Michelle protested, all the while keeping a smirk on her face; a tough feet to full off.

Layla tried hard not to scoff. "You're kidding me right?"

Michelle shrugged. She knew that Mike was simply too easy for Layla. She had seen the two flirting together and Mike clearly was not playing hard to get.

Layla sighed. "Michelle, you know that he's not my type. He's not exactly your type either, but remember our little game? He's the perfect guy to start off with and at the Spring Dance no less."

"But-" Michelle stopped and just nodded her head smiling slightly. "Later then Lay."

Layla waved to her friend and walked purposefully towards her locker. Layla glanced around quickly, before spinning the combination and sliding the locker open. Inside, there was a thick beige envelope, with the same slanted writing and a square sheet of writing paper inside.

Layla read the message quickly and smiled to herself. Everything was in place. Mike was finally listening to Layla. This was going to be a fun dance. As Layla prepared to set the stones in place, a most unfortunate figure strode towards her, his arrogance in full swing. Name: Liam Andrews. Occupation: pain in the ass. Correction; sexy pain in the ass. Liam was 6'1, with dark, soft, blond hair. He had icy green eyes that were often compared to evergreen trees. He had the most angular, well-structured face on this side of the state. Liam's wide mouth, straight nose and defined cheekbones, were enough to send any girl swooning; any girl but Layla, of course.

Layla watched as a particularly nervous freshman bumped into Liam, dropping her books everywhere. At that point, Liam's eyes left Layla's and he looked mildly annoyed as the freshman threw out apologies. Liam shook his head and bent down to help the flustered girl pick up her things.

"I am so sorry!" The girl squeaked again, blushing profusely.

"There's nothing to be sorry about. If anyone should apologize, it should be me. I was distracted." Layla's firm gaze softened a little. That was the thing about Liam. He was obviously popular, hot, amazing and funny. He could get away with ignoring or bullying others, but he refused to do it. He always remembered everyone's names, smiled, inquired about the little details and made an effort to be nice. It was moments like these that Layla had no idea what to think. She was still thinking about it when Liam reached her.

"Hello, princess. What are you doing standing here all alone?" Liam said, more like breathed out, in the husky voice that made one think of thick honey. One hand was placed on the locker behind Layla and he leaned in and intimately smirked all the while.

Layla sighed and pulled out her most sarcastic voice. "I'm waiting for you of course."

Liam threw his head back and laughed. Layla bit her bottom lip. She could not deny that his laugh was immensely attractive. "Well, darling, wait no more."

Layla just shook her head, grabbed the note and shut her locker. She began walking away from Liam, and he caught up with her with a few brisk strides.

"Really though, what are you up to?" Liam asked; his green orbs curious.

Layla was startled by the lack of arguing that going on between them. "Planning for the dance."

Liam's eyes were too understanding. "Ah, so who's Michelle's perfect guy this time?"

Layla snapped. "You're an idiot. The others were ploys to get one guy's attention."

Liam paused once they were outside in the school parking lot. "Michelle does not seem that conniving to me."

"That's because she doesn't know, stupid." Layla barked and moved through the crowd expertly, reaching her silver Audi quickly. "If you even dream of telling her, I will find you and I will make it hurt."

Liam blocked her door. "Trust me, sweetheart; my dreams have nothing to do with Michelle."

Layla could not help the eye roll at this point. "I'm sure. Michelle's too good for you anyways."

Layla shoved him off of her car and was surprised when he opened the door for her. She slid in without a thank-you and started up her car. Liam leaned through the open window and asked her another question.

"So, who is Michelle's lucky guy?" Liam honestly seemed intrigued.

Layla bit her lip and debated whether or not she should tell him. "It's your best friend."

Liam looked taken aback, but not in a bad way. "How do you know that he likes her? Did he ask you for help? No offense, cupcake, but I don't see that happening."

Layla was annoyed and it showed on her face. "I am not stupid. Everyone can see that he's been in love with her since second grade. She's the only one oblivious to it because she thinks he's after me."

Liam looked at Layla carefully, appreciating more than just her beauty. "So, you saw that?"

Layla nodded as she fiddled with the radio stations. Liam was quiet for a minute and Layla was confused. Liam was never quiet for any length of time. She turned her head back at him and he was assessing her appreciatively.

"What?" Layla demanded, her voice coming out a little weaker than she had hoped.

"Who are you going to the dance with?" Liam demanded, his thick sweet voice came out short and abrupt.

Layla was confused by the turn of events, but Liam's evergreen eyes were steely and gave nothing away. "Mason."

Liam scowled. "And you call me an idiot."

Layla shrugged. She was not going to defend Mason, she was merely going with him because he was the ninth guy to ask her and she thought nine would be her lucky number.

Liam seemed to struggle with something for a minute. "Cancel. You have a new date."

Layla was taken aback. Her dark grey orbs widened in anger. "What? Who?"

Liam clenched his jaw and crossed his arms over his chest. "Me. Jeez, princess, I thought you were a little smarter than that."

Layla was really angry now. Her heart was pounding! "I do not understand what all these girls see in you. You demand a date then insult my intelligence. Why should I go with you?"

Liam rolled his eyes. "Don't flatter yourself. This is for the benefit of our best friends. I don't want to have to see you more than I need to, but I'm tried of him whining about Michelle all the time."

Layla pouted and couldn't help but feel a little hurt by Liam's words. She sighed and relented. "Don't be late."

"I'm never late." Liam leaned out of her car and peered at her in a peculiar manner for a minute. "Don't give yourself too much credit, babe. You don't seem to be able to see everything. See you tonight, look hot for me. I have a reputation to uphold."

With that cryptic comment, Liam walked away. Layla frowned, but pulled out of the lot and waited in front of the East side exit for Michelle.

Michelle left Layla at her locker and walked away to find a certain boy. Once she spotted the tall, athletic, brown haired, blue-eyed boy, she called out to him. "Brad!"

The boy turned to her and his face broke out into a smile. "Hey, Shelly. What's going on?"

Michelle bit her lip. "I need a favour."

Brad's smiled turned into a smirk. "Is that so?"

Michelle nodded and attempted to hide the blush on her face. "Can you and your date, Mia, save us a spot at your table? Layla and I are getting ready together and I need Mia for something really quick."

Brad searched Michelle's face for any hint of what she may have wanted. He didn't find anything. The face that was so familiar to him hid her emotions well. He sighed. He couldn't refuse her anything. "Of course."

Michelle broke out into a wide smile and Brad had no problems with agreeing to anything she asked. "Thanks, Wilson. I guess you're not so bad."

Brad chuckled. "You too, Williams."

Michelle grinned. "So, I'll see you tonight?"

Brad just nodded and watched her walk away. He chided himself for not speaking up earlier. Now Michelle was going to the dance with that moron Mike…

Michelle sighed. The things she did for her best friend. They had promised to never let guys get between them, and Michelle was not going to start now. Brad was the perfect guy, best friends with Liam Andrews. He was funny, sweet, teasing, kind and romantic. He was just the kind of guy an out-spoken, crazy, funny, wild, beautiful girl like Layla needed. Then again, Brad was the kind of guy every girl needed.

"What do you mean Mike's not coming?" Layla demanded into the speaker, while attempting to curl a strand of hair. Michelle was in the washroom taking a shower, and could not overhear the conversation taking place.

"Now you don't owe him a kiss." Liam reasoned sounding quite happy with the idea. "What kind of deal is that anyways? Mike dates Michelle and you have to kiss him?"

"Andrews! Who cares if I have to kiss Mike? She's my best friend and I want to make her happy! She and Brad have been crazy about each other since forever, but they're too stupid to do anything about it."

"Well, it will happen tonight if I have anything to do with it. But really, Mike's gross. You should be happy you don't have to kiss him." Liam had a one track mind. Though Layla was sure the only reason he kept bringing it up was just to annoy her.

"But it's ruined everything! Brad was supposed to see Michelle with Mike and get jealous and finally admit his feelings for her. The two are so adamant about hiding this to preserve their friendship, that if one of them doesn't snap, it'll never happen!" Layla lamented throwing herself on the bed and staring at the swirly purple ceiling.

"Sorry, cupcake. But, maybe Michelle will see him with Mia and get jealous and admit her feelings." Liam said sounding distracted.

"No, no. Michelle's not like that. If anything she'll smile and tell him she's happy that he's got a date."

"Sorry, babe. I don't know what you want me to do about it." Liam said annoyed that Layla was not overjoyed by the fact that he had gotten rid of two stupid guys for her; first Mason and then Mike. Everyone seemed to have a thing for Layla.

"I know! You be Michelle's date! Your Brad's best friend! He'll feel betrayed and punch you and stuff. Then he'll admit his feelings to Michelle and everything will be perfect." Layla shot out of bed happy with her idea.

"You just want to see me get punched." Liam whined. He was annoyed that she was not listening to what he had to say.

"I won't deny that." Layla smiled into the receiver, keeping her eye on the bathroom door.

"So, who'll you go with?" Liam asked, silently agreeing to Layla's request.

"It's no big deal. I can go alone, or, oh! Mike's calling me. That's weird." Layla said as she heard the beep on the other end of her cell phone.

"No! Don't pick up!" Liam exclaimed into the receiver sounding panicked.

"What's wrong with you?" Layla asked wondering indeed what was wrong with the insufferably good looking male.

"You have to give him a piece of your mind for ditching Michelle. You should probably do it at the dance."

"Whatever, psycho. Well, this is worked out well for me." Layla said, getting ready to hang up. Michelle had turned off the water and was due any minute now.

"What do you mean?" Liam asked confused.

"Well, now I can dance with whoever I want, and leave with whoever I want, without stepping on anyone's toes."

"We have a mission to accomplish! Do you think of nothing else but your… desires?" Liam sounded more than just annoyed. He seemed a little angry, but Layla could not think of why that would be.

"Take that back, Andrews!"

"Well, it's the truth!" Liam claimed sticking to his anger.

"No, it's not! Not that it'd be any of your business anyways." Layla dismissed. She didn't feel like arguing with him again.

"Oh I assure you, sweetheart. It is my business." Liam said in a suggestive voice that was made more effective by the passion his anger caused.

"That's it. I'm hanging up. I have a dance to get ready for."

Liam waited in the hallway of Michelle's house frustrated. Before he could contemplate what he was frustrated about exactly, Michelle and Layla walked down the stairs, laughing the whole way.

"Oh man, did you see the look on Mason's face when you told him you couldn't go with him?" Michelle asked laughing as she slid down the staircase in her royal blue halter dress.

Layla laughed, unaware of Liam's eyes watching her. "Well, I think it was due to the fact that Andrews was standing right there, threatening Mason not to go with me."

"Hey, ladies? Can we get moving?" Liam snapped, trying to control his annoyance at the topic of Mason. Why were they talking about the idiot anyways?

Layla's green orbs flashed onto Liam. She was wearing a simple floor length white dress. It had a low neckline that exposed her curved chest. There were strips cut out of the sides of the dress, and it had no back. Her hair was left in curls framing her face and trailing down her back. "Of course, sooner we go, sooner we can come back."

Liam shrugged but didn't take his eyes off of her. Michelle smirked from where she was standing, slightly behind Layla. Brad was pretty amazing, but Liam wasn't all too bad either.

As soon as they had reached school, Liam stepped out of the car and opened the door for the two girls. Michelle came out first and she thanked him as he helped her out. Layla looked at Liam's outstretched hand and smirked, getting out just fine on her own. Liam clenched his jaw, and promised himself tonight would go the way he planned.

As they stepped in the gym, Michelle didn't bother taking anything in. It was all same old, same old; streamers, balloons, flashing lights and the works. Out of their own accord, Michelle's eyes found Brad standing a little way off with Mia. She sighed inwardly, but she was determined to get him alone. Once that was complete, she would convince him to ask Layla out once and for all and get it over with. It didn't matter that in the process Michelle's heart would be shattered, she had to do it for Layla.

Michelle left Liam and Layla to argue as she marched up to Brad purposefully. As soon as Brad's eyes found Michelle in her long royal blue dress, with her hair pinned up and her eyes determinedly looking his way, his whole face lit up. Michelle, upon seeing Brad's lit up face, smiled in return. This would hurt her more than she could imagine, but Layla would do it for her. If anyone deserved to be happy, it was Brad and Layla.

Layla ignored Liam's annoyed stare and watched her friend. Michelle was clearly in love with Brad, and Brad was more than head over heels for Michelle. If only the two would stop being so stubborn, they could be happy.

"Liam," Layla hissed, annoyed that Liam was acting all brooding and arrogant.

"What is it, sweetheart? Are you planning on confessing your feelings for me or something?" Liam asked in a bored tone, knowing that there was no way confident Layla would ever do something of that sort.

"I won't dignify that with an answer. Get your butt over there and act all couple-like with Michelle! Brad will get jealous and then-"

Liam sighed and ran his hand through his blond hair, succeeding in momentarily distracting Layla. "I know. I'll tell him we should talk about it outside then we'll lock them in the janitor's closet. Michelle will get all weird and claim that Brad has to date you, and hopefully he'll get mad enough to say he doesn't want anything to do with you; or at least he'd better."

Layla nodded, not caring that Liam was insulting her with the last part. "Good luck. Try not to screw up."

Liam flashed Layla a cocky look. "I'd say I never screw anything, but that'd be a lie."

"I'm going to pretend like I didn't hear that." Layla said sharply, glowering at Liam.

Liam smirked at her and sauntered off to Brad and Michelle. Once he reached them, Liam slid an arm around Michelle's shoulders and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. He did not want to over do it. If anyone was making that kind of move on his girl, he'd be pissed for sure. Just like he expected, Brad was immediately jealous, and was doing nothing to hide it. What Liam didn't expect was Layla's annoyed look. His ego wanted him to think that she was jealous, but that was preposterous, clearly she thought this was taking too long.

"Hey Brad." Liam said smirking at his best friend.

"Liam," Brad managed to get out in a rather uncivilized manner.

Michelle just looked curiously between the too. Clearly Brad was jealous. He must still think that Liam came with Layla.

"Liam, I need to talk to you outside," Brad said in a clipped voice. Liam smiled at how simple Brad was making it and he accompanied his friend out of the gym.

Layla came up to Michelle with a frown on her face. "Morons."

"I agree. Do you think we should follow them? I mean, I don't want them to hurt each other." Michelle said biting her lip.

Layla broke into a wide smirk. "Well, I wouldn't mind if Brad got in a couple of hits, but you're right, we should go."

With that, the two girls went off after the boys, ignoring any 'hellos' or offers to dance. Layla had a huge smile on her face. Michelle and Brad would finally be together. Michelle on the other hand, was frowning at herself. She should be happy that her best friend and the best guy out there were going to get together. Michelle shook her head and forced a small smile on her face.

Once Layla and Michelle stepped outside, the first punch was thrown. Brad's fist collided with Liam's chin and Michelle gasped. Layla looked stunned and frowned a little. For some reason, she actually cared whether Liam was hurt; strange.

"Damn it, Liam!" Brad cried out, seeming a little surprised that Liam did nothing to protect himself.

"Stop it!" Michelle cried, coming in between the two boys.

They stopped and looked at her. Brad was staring at her annoyed that she was defending Liam, while Liam was grimacing and staring past the two of them at Layla.

"Michelle, move. I don't want to accidently hurt you." Brad said in a caring way, flashing an invigorated look at Liam.

Michelle just scowled. "Well, you won't because neither one of you is going to make another move. Isn't that right Layla?"

Layla just sighed and moved from her spot and came to stand right by Liam. "Right."

Liam smiled slightly at Layla's disinterested tone. He knew better. She was ecstatic about making her friend happy. Layla shot Liam a look, before moving near the janitor's closet. In a flurry of commotion, she was calling out.

"Oh no! Brad, Michelle! I dropped my earring! I think it may have gone into the closet! You have to help me look for it, it was my grandmother's!" Layla lamented, bending down to look at the floor. Liam had to admit, she was not a bad actress.

In confusion, Brad and Michelle ran over to help. Once they entered the closet, Layla shut the door and leaned back against it. Liam joined her as they found a chair and held it shut.

"Think that'll do it?" Liam asked her curiously.

Layla just shrugged. "If it doesn't, I'll just go in there myself and yell at both of them until they listen. When I want something done, it gets done."

Liam smirked. "Well, then. Now that that's done, care to-"

"Layla!" A male's voice called out.

Liam and Layla both turned to see Mike walking towards them. Liam was beyond pissed off and Layla was too; though she managed to hide it better than him.

"I've been looking all over for you! I figured since you didn't need me to be Michelle's date, you could have some fun. Let's dance." Without waiting for a response, Mike grabbed Layla's hand, ignoring Liam's angry look, and pulled her into the gym.

Liam's hand clenched into fists and without thinking about it, he rushed back into the gym, keeping his eyes on the dancing pair.

Michelle blinked twice, and wondered what was going on. One minute the two best friends were fighting, the next they were looking for Layla's earring (which was strange because Michelle could not remember Layla wearing any) and suddenly she and Brad were in the closet alone. Correction, tiny closet alone.

"It's locked." Brad confirmed Michelle's suspicions.

"What was that all about?" Michelle demanded. It would not due to have Brad and Liam fighting over Layla. Though, if she thought about it, Liam and Layla would look good together. Michelle shook her head; that was just her jealousy talking. Liam seemed to like Layla, but if it were her choosing, Brad would win hands down. "Why were you fighting Liam?"

Brad looked hurt. "Sorry, I didn't mean to mess with your date."

"I didn't ask for an apology, and you don't owe me one. I just want to know what was so important that you had to punch your best friend."

Brad sighed and gave up. He had been curbing his emotions for a long time and he was sick of it. "A girl."

Michelle tried not to show her hurt. "Oh?"

Brad saw the hurt anyways, and he had a flash of hope. With a smile he continued. "She's the most amazing thing ever. She's beautiful, with eyes that I get lost in. Her hair always smells good and I just want to run my fingers through it. She's confident, and sexy and smart. I'm crazy about her; I have been since second grade. I'd do anything; say anything, just to see her smile. Worst part is she doesn't know it."

Michelle sighed with envy. Layla was all those things. It was sweet though, to hear them coming from such a wonderful and committed guy. "You should tell her. Help me pry open the door and I'll find Layla for you."

Brad looked confused for a second. He had just confessed everything to her and all she wanted to do was find Layla? Brad got that Michelle and Layla were inseparable, but surely he deserved some response before she ran off and relayed every detail to Layla.

"Wait, why?" He demanded, slowly losing the hope he had built up.

Michelle looked at him as if he were crazy. "So you can tell her you love her that much and ask her out. I'm sure she'll say yes. If not, I can convince her. Once she sees what an attractive, sweet, caring, funny and laidback guy you are, she'll be stupid not to say yes."

Brad heard the compliments, but he was more surprised at the fact that Michelle had said Layla. Sure, Layla was great and all, but he didn't like her that way. Layla made it clear that she didn't like him that way either. So, what was Michelle going on about?

"Layla? Why would I want to ask Layla out?"

Michelle's heart started beating faster. Surely he was kidding. Who didn't want to ask Layla out? "Because of all those reasons you just told me. You like her, love her even. You should tell her."

Brad understood. Michelle thought he cared about Layla. He took a step closer to Michelle. "Shelly, you're crazy."

Michelle stepped back, gulping slightly. Couldn't he see that he wasn't making this any easier for her by coming up so close? Brad wasn't deterred. He had a confident and determined look in his eyes. He continued moving closer until she was backed up against the door.

"Michelle. That wonderful girl you were hearing about? It isn't Layla." Brad said, touching Michelle's cheek.

Michelle couldn't think when he was this close to her. "Oh, well who is it then? If you need my help, I can try and talk to the girl for you. But I'm sure you can manage all on your own. Anyone would be blind to say no to you."

Brad broke out into a wild grin. "Shelly? Can I ask you a question?"

Michelle could only nod. Brad's voice was low and husky. He had that amazing smile on his face and his eyes were twinkling. Michelle never wanted to hurt anyone as much as this girl who had his heart and she could now that she knew that it wasn't Layla.

"Are you blind?"

Michelle blinked for a second, until it hit her. Brad liked her? That was simply not possible. Girls like her were great sure, but they were overshadowed by the Laylas of the world. "No."

"Well then, can you give me one good reason why I shouldn't kiss you right now?" Brad said running his fingers across her cheek and his other hand went around her waist, pulling her against him.

For the life of her, Michelle couldn't think. But she had to say something, anything, she couldn't let him kiss her and break her heart. She wasn't hearing something clearly. There had to be a catch. She put her hand against his chest.

"Wait, what are you talking about?"

Brad let out a low growl and his eyes darkened. "Do I have to spell it out for you? I love you. I have since second grade. Haven't I said that enough times? Haven't I showed you that?"

Michelle just looked struck. He said the three words to her. The three words she was confident she would never hear from him; at least not to her. "You can't!"

"Says who?" Brad demanded getting annoyed and losing hope.

"But, you like Layla." Michelle said trying to figure out if someone was playing a cruel joke on her.

"No, I love you. I thought we established that. Enough, Michelle. Just tell me this, do you like me?"

Michelle could not form her words. It was true though, she had made him repeat it enough times. He loved her. Brad watched Michelle's facial expressions. His heart was torn. He could tell that she didn't know what to say, which could only mean one thing- she didn't like him and she was trying to word it nicely.

Brad pulled away trying to hide his hurt look at her rejection.

"Brad!" Michelle said startled at his change in demeanour.

"What?" He snarled and it came out harsher than he intended.

Michelle realized how stupid she was. He had just confessed everything and here she was trying to convince him otherwise. Of course he thought she rejected him. Michelle pulled him closer and attempted to make up for it the only way she knew how. She yanked him until he was within kissing distance, and she quickly got rid of that distance. The kiss was brief but breathtaking.

Michelle pulled away and paused only long enough to say one thing. "In case you didn't catch that, I love you."

Brad grinned and pressed his forehead against hers. "You're right, I didn't catch that. Care to repeat it?"

Repeat it they did. Over and over and over again.

Layla grew bored as the minutes ticked by. She had danced with several guys, one of them being Mike, who proved to be a boring date and he wasn't even her date. He agreed with everything she said and smiled all the time. Not that agreeing with her and smiling were bad things, but right now what she needed was a cocky smirk and aggravating banter.

While she tried to control it, Layla's eyes slid to the tall, athletic, icy green eyed blond standing with a group of girls who were hanging off of his every word. He met her eyes over the crowd and their gazes locked. She didn't want to be the first one to look away, (she was not one to back away from a challenge), but Mike was saying something and she didn't want to be too rude.

"-So what do you think?" He asked her looking eager for an answer.

Baffled Layla put on a fake smile. When in doubt smile and agree with a guy; it never fails. "Sure."

Mike looked disbelieving for a second, but broke out into a wide smile. "Let's go then."

Layla was confused, but she allowed Mike to lead her to the school's open green houses on the second floor. Layla leaned out and looked at the view from above. There was nothing special to see. The school was surrounded by houses and a forest on this side. Mike joined her and looked down.

"This dance kind of sucks," Layla complained, crossing her arms over her chest.

Mike grinned. "Well, I figure if I get to be with you, it can't be that bad."

Layla cringed. Coming from Mike the line seemed cheesy and superficial. Not seeming to notice, Mike began to lean in. Layla backed away slightly, until her back was against the banister of the balcony. Mike seemed a little confused, but he just took a step closer towards her.

Layla lifted a hand and pressed it on his chest to keep him at bay. Mike seemed to think otherwise of this gesture. He covered her hand with his own.

"Stop, Mike." Layla said in a clear voice. There were plenty of opportunities where boys seemed to want to kiss her, some times she even let them, but tonight wasn't one of those times. She simply wasn't in the mood.

"But, you said you were okay with this." Mike protested, not moving.

Before she could reply, Mike was pulled off of her. She looked over and saw a pissed off Liam getting ready to punch Mike. For once, Layla admit that she was happy to see him. She had the situation with Mike under control, yet it was nice to just have it over with that quickly.

"She said stop," Liam seethed, his icy green orbs flashing as he stepped towards Mike.

"This is none of your business, Andrews." Mike spit back.

Layla sighed. "Mike, stop. I don't want you here. Could you just go back to the dance? Find someone else. Last I heard Mia was all alone."

Mike's jaw dropped and he looked between the two of us. "Fine."

Mike stalked off seeming a little put off but not that crazy about the idea of fighting with Liam.

Layla stood awkwardly looking at Liam who was suddenly as ease.

"I had it under control." Layla let him know.

Liam just nodded placidly. "Sure."

Layla was thrown off by his agreement. He didn't seem to have any sarcasm in his voice.

"Did you check on Michelle and Brad?" Layla asked Liam needing something to say.

"Well, I would have, but I was a little busy…" Liam began with a smirk on his face. Layla cut him off.

"I'm sure you were, but please spare me the details." Layla wasn't sure why she was angry, but she was. Liam was here though, so she could take out her anger on him.

Liam cocked up an eyebrow. "Is that jealousy I hear?"

Layla rolled her eyes and spoke up sarcastically. "You have no idea."

Liam smiled as she rolled her eyes and spoke in that sarcastic, put off tone. He frowned again remembering how she had walked away with Mike. It was incredibly stupid, and when she didn't return, he had to go after her. "Please don't tell me the person you chose to go home with was Mike."

Layla looked disgusted. "That falls under the category of 'none of your business'. Why? Jealous?"

Liam visibly cheered upon hearing the unconcealed disgust in her voice. When he answered, his tone was lacking the sarcasm she had had. "Of course I am."

Up until that point, Layla had avoided really looking at him. She was not sure why, but all she knew was that if she made eye contact now, all would be lost. What 'all' was, she did not know, but she wasn't sure she would like it very much. Never one for running away, Layla lifted her eyes slowly and she gasped.

Liam was alert immediately. He glanced behind him worriedly but saw nothing. His eyes returned to Layla and he furrowed his eye brows in confusion. She was looking at him, but why?

"Liam," Layla breathed and her tone was soft. Liam had never seen her look at anyone the way she was looking at him right now. Against his will, his heartbeat increased. Layla's fingers moved up slowly and caressed his cheek. They were cool on his face, but he felt some slight pain.

"You're an idiot," she told him. Liam felt safe. This was the Layla he knew. "Why didn't you say something about your face?"

Liam just shrugged as it dawned to him what her concern was about. It felt nice to have Layla care about him, even if it was only for a couple of minutes. "It didn't hurt too much."

Layla scowled. "You don't always have to be so manly."

Liam grinned. "So, you think I'm manly?"

Layla sighed and wondered why she bothered conversing with him. He always had to turn everything into a joke. Couldn't he take things seriously for once? "It's not funny, Liam. Not everything always has to be a joke."

Liam saw the expression on her face, and he realized it was now or never. "You're right. Not everything is a joke."

Layla tried to hide the surprise on her face. He was agreeing with her? That expression on his face… While he was usually laughing or smirking, the determined, seriousness was really quiet attractive; not that Liam wasn't attractive on a daily basis but… Oh no, she couldn't possibly…

Liam took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He picked up Layla's hands and stared at her long, slender fingers for a moment. He played with the platinum band on her finger and noticed that the jewel was the exact colour of her eyes. His icy green eyes, met a darker pair and he spoke in a clear voice. "For example, my feelings for you are no joke."

"Your what?"

"Feelings, Layla. Really, while you may not have a wide variety of them, surely you know they exist." Liam replied dryly, hoping his composure was kept.

Layla was shocked. Only Liam could go from admitting his so-called feelings for her, to making fun of her.

"Apparently you noticed Brad and Michelle's undying love in second grade, but clearly you couldn't see mine."

"Second grade?" Layla asked faintly. That wasn't possible. Why was he putting this on her now? He couldn't, not after she had just realized what he meant to her.

Liam went on as if he hadn't heard her. "Ever since I knew what caring for someone meant, all I could think of was you. Why do you think I spend so much time with you? I learned a long time ago, that with you, charming smiles and placid agreement do not work. Any guy who does exactly what you tell him, or agrees to your every whim, isn't one you are interested in; or at least not for very long. You're smart Layla, a lot more than what people give you credit for. They're all happy to assume that you're the beautiful, popular blonde teenage girl who's bitchy, sarcastic and spoiled. I know better than that. You're beautiful. Not because of your hair colour, or your body (which is killer by the way), but for you. You think that I don't know about the orphanage? You go there every Sunday. You read to the children, bring them gifts and give them hope. You're smart, but you hide it. You're comfortable with letting people think stereotypically of you because it means they won't get close enough to hurt."

Liam paused and took in Layla's shock. Her green eyes were unlike anything he had ever seen. They were free from the hardness and were open, vulnerable. She looked at him in disbelief. "Liam, if this is a joke then stop. It isn't funny."

"Why should I stop, Layla? I've stopped myself from saying anything for way too long now. What is there to lose? What's the worst that can happen? You already hate me." Liam's voice was resigned and he looked away, trying to hide the hurt in his eyes.

"Liam, I am more messed up than you could possibly know." Layla began. "And for the record, I don't hate you. I couldn't."

Liam rolled his eyes. He was happy to hear the sincerity in her tone. "I know. I know and I don't care."

He moved to hold her but she pushed him away and wrapped her arms around herself. Liam was hurt, but more so by the primitive fear in Layla's eyes. Liam pushed away his feelings and pulled Layla into his arms. She struggled for a moment, but allowed him this gesture. "No. You don't know."

"What the hell, Layla?" Liam demanded, getting angry seeing her breaking down in front of him like this. "What happened?"

Layla laughed bitterly. "It's more like who happened."

Liam looked confused. "What are you talking about?"

Layla wrapped her arms around her frame as if trying to hold herself together. She took in a shaky breath and steeled herself. She needed to do this. She owed it to herself and to Liam. She was not going to jump into a relationship with him without warning him first. There, she had finally admitted it to herself. She, Layla Thompson, cared about Liam Andrews. More than cared really; possibly loved? Could someone like her love?

"Two years ago, I dated one of my brother's friends." Layla began, refusing to even think of the individual's name.

"The army guy? Tall? Black hair? Cocky son of a bitch?" Liam asked, scowling. He had never liked the guy that much. He had never seen Layla taken by someone the way she was with the asshole. His instinct, or rather jealousy, was right.

Layla chuckled lightly, but her heart wasn't in it. "That's the one. At first, it was too good to be true. A sexy, confident older guy was into little old sixteen year old me? Not possible. I mean, what did I have to offer him?"

"Don't talk about yourself like that." Liam said sharply. He could think of a million things she had to offer, but not to the idiot who had clearly hurt her.

Layla shook her head. "Liam, at that point, I thought I was the shit. Come on, you remember; popular, pretty, well-liked at school. I was confident. But in the midst of dating him and after we broke up, I was literally falling to pieces. It was great in the beginning. He didn't pressure me, he made me feel good. But it all changed once his older brother died. He started drinking and lashing out. After that, his pain had to be my pain too. I'd seen the scars from his childhood, the visible ones. Then there were the invisible ones that I was getting to know way too much for my liking. He would put me down constantly, make me feel unworthy, like I owed him something for taking pity on his friend's little sister."

Liam inhaled deeply and clenched his fist in Layla's dress. It would not due for her to see the expression on his face now. Liam knew she was watering it down for him. He didn't want to hear the details, but if she wanted to tell him, then he would listen. Layla suddenly lost her balance and began to slide onto the floor. Liam held her up and slipped off his jacket for her to sit on. He joined her and began rubbing circles on her back. Layla stared off into the darkness for a little while, pain evident on her face. Liam touched her cheek and she turned back to him.

"Long story short, I hated me. Eventually, he said something along the lines of 'you should be grateful someone like me is willing to date someone like you'. I snapped and told him that was no longer the case. He slapped me and grabbed my arm, at that point Tyler walked in. Let me tell you, I have never been happier to see my brother. Tyler kicked his ass and a few days later he was deployed overseas. I never saw him again. I spent the summer before junior year getting myself back together."

Liam exhaled. "Layla, that's horrible. Why didn't you ever say anything? Wait, is there more? He didn't…?"

Layla looked at Liam and saw his guarded expression had disappeared. She saw compassion and caring in his eyes. "One; what would I say Liam? I valued my independence, my confidence. I didn't want to break down. Two; yes there's more, but it's more of the same really. Three; do you think he'd be alive right now if he did?"

Liam pulled her into his arms once more and breathed in her scent. "I am so sorry you had to go through that. I am sorry that the whole while I was acting like a jealous ass."

Layla just shook her head and inhaled. It was nice to have it off of her chest. It was nice to have Liam holding her like this. Actually, it was nice to have Liam period. She would hurt him, she knew it. Every attempt at a relationship after her situation had failed. She valued Liam too much to make him suffer along with her. She knew him. He would not give up. He clearly only thought he was in love with her, it's happened before. Layla knew it couldn't be true. Liam would be better off with anyone else. She had to do it. It was because she loved him, that she had to let him go.

"Thanks, Liam," Layla said softly, before abruptly speaking up. "We should go."

Liam looked confused at her change in tone and subject matter. "What are you talking about?"

"Umm… we need to let Michelle and Brad out of the closet." Layla improvised.

"Okay…" Liam said, but he saw something in her eye. He grabbed her before she could go anywhere.

They looked at each other for a moment and Layla felt her heart rate pick up speed. Liam's eyes wandered down to her lips and it broke her out of her reverie.

"I don't love you," Layla blurted out desperately. She knew that if Liam moved any closer, if he kissed her, it would be her undoing.

Liam looked like he had been slapped in the face. He stared at Layla, with a pain in his chest. He looked at her and saw that she was fidgeting, playing with her dress. She was biting her lip and her eyes spelled out the word LIAR. Liam took a deep breath and just thought for a moment. He was not going to believe her. She was lying. He knew her for long enough to know she was lying, but why?

"So?" Liam asked nonchalant.

Layla's eyes were wide. "I can't do this."

"Can't or won't?" Liam asked looking at her with a gaze that told her he was not fooled.

"I don't love you," Layla said again, with less conviction. "Dammit Liam! I can't and I won't!"

"It's alright Layla. I've waited this long, I can spare a few more weeks." Liam assured her quietly. He looked at her amused as she frowned.

"You'll have to get over it. I already like someone anyways."

Liam was trying to hide his grin now. Her attempt at getting rid of him was quite pathetic. "Just like? I can compete with 'like'."

"You arrogant, idiot! I love him." Layla said smacking Liam's chest.

"Is that so? So, who is this lucky guy?"

"Mike!" Layla blurted out without thinking.

Liam didn't bother hiding his amusement. "Mike? The same Mike you set Michelle up with? The same Mike you called an idiot? The same Mike you were bored just looking at? The same Mike you refused to kiss? Are we talking about that Mike?"

Layla scowled and pouted at him. "Yes."

Liam was getting tired of this. On the ground where they were seated, he moved closer to her so that he was facing her and her back was to the wall. He brought himself close enough to touch her, but not doing so yet.

"So, tell me what you like about Mike."

Layla was flabbergasted. Liam's closeness was too much for her. She could smell the cinnamon on his breath, the sharp, refreshing scent of his cologne and the musky scent that was entirely him. She did not know how she was going to manage this.

"He's smart, compassionate and annoyingly arrogant. He doesn't bother trying to hide it. He cares about people, he helps them. He doesn't get all high and mighty, 'I'm-better-than-you'. He's athletic and rubs it in. I can't stand just talking to him. We always argue and we don't get along. But it's because we choose to. We can if we tried." Layla paused and tried to read the expression on Liam's face. He didn't look convinced. In fact, Liam was elated. Layla had so clearly described him. A couple more sentences and she'd be his. Liam pushed a stray curl away from her face and leaned in closer to hear her.

Layla was annoyed. Okay, that was a lie. She was going crazy. She didn't know who she described, but it wasn't Mike. She needed a couple more sentences to get Liam to believe her. "If all that doesn't work, his blond windswept hair that's always falling in his face annoyingly, and beautiful green eyes I get lost in, do it for me."

Liam broke out into a full out smirk and he caressed Layla's cheek. "Layla, baby, you do realize that Mike has brown hair and brown eyes, right?"

Layla gaped at this fact, because it was indeed true. The guy she had just described was none other than Liam Andrews. Still struggling with this realization, Liam took initiative and kissed her soundly. Needless to say, all thoughts flew out of her head.

"Liam! You can't just-" Layla managed to say, once Liam had let her up for air.

He just smirked at her, and brought his lips dangerously close. "You were saying?"

Layla shut her eyes and attempted to remember all the reasons she had for staying away from him. "I'm not good for you. I'm messed up and broken and bitch-"

Liam cut her off. "And you love me?"

"Yes, and-" Layla's eyes widened at his statement. She did love him, and if you loved someone enough, shouldn't you at least try? Layla was never a coward. She never backed down from a challenge. "And I love you."

Liam grinned. "Alright then,"

Just as he leaned in to kiss her, they were interrupted. Liam growled, "If that's Mike, so help him God."

"Just shut up and kiss me already." Layla said, bringing his face back towards her.

Liam smiled brightly and arrogantly. "You don't have to tell me twice."

Michelle and Brad looked at their two best friends in shock. Actually, Michelle was shocked, Brad was kind of envious that his best friend was getting so much lip action.

Michelle turned around and looked at Brad. "Huh, I guess Layla doesn't love you after all."

Brad grinned and rolled his eyes. "But you do."

Michelle's eyes softened and she put her hand on his chest. "Yeah, I kind of do."

"Well then, do I still have to be a gentleman, or can you just shut up and kiss me?"

Michelle laughed and shook her head. "You don't have to tell me twice."

And that's that. Hope you like =)